Arang Korean restaurant/barbecue sits on Golden Square in Soho – a large, spacious cantine-style room with tables lit by what appear to be neon snooker table lamps each of which has an industrial ventilation tube zooming out of it that hovers, Bladrunner style, over your table’s hotplate.
The hotplate is the centre of fun at Arang, although by all means do not limit your choices to the barbecue section as the starters, noodle and rice dishes are all worth a go, including a stellar Bi Bim Bap.
The staff are smiley and will help you pronounce the tongue twisters on the menu without the sort of patronising glare from l’enfer you might get in a French restaurant when ordering wine with an English accent, they are also incredibly efficient with food arriving in a smooth and steady flow and every little pot of pickles or dipping sauce explained properly.
I was the only one who liked the spicy, tangy Kimchi pickles, but then they are a bit on the marmite scale of tastes. The Hae-Mul-Pa-Chun or crispy egg pancake with seafood was sweet and silky and divine, we also devoured a rich and spicy octopus dish the name of which I fail to recall but popped my socks off.
The barbecue needless to say got me all hot and bothered. Or just hot. but then not even hot since the amazing ventilation system from outer space dealt with all of that.
But boy it was good! Sam Gyeop Sal, the pork belly, was thinly slivered and grilled to sizzling point then rolled in a lettuce leaf with palm sugar, sesame sauce and pickles and a tangy peanut goo. We then launched into Bul Ggo Ki – (I URGE you to ask the sweet waiter with the nerd specs how to pronounce this one, you won’t be disappointed) – or sliced and marinated beef, which melted in the mouth and all over my dress unfortunately… Those of us still standing moved on to the Bi Bim Bap but sadly there was no room in any of us for desert.